Shore anglers and boaters braved sunny but windy conditions during the NorCal Trout Angler’s Challenge event at Lake Camanche on Saturday, April 22 to hook some huge rainbow trout.
Camanche, the popular East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) reservoir located on the Mokelumne River east of Lodi, is known for its fine shore fishing for trout – and it sure didn’t disappoint anglers during the event. Shore anglers swept first and second place in the event, hosted by Angler’s Press and the Fish Sniffer magazine.
“PowerBait never fails,” said Jim Cross of Milpitas, who won first place in adult division of the event with a 6.58 lb. rainbow. “I was shore fishing with rainbow Power Bait from the north shore bank about 15 feet out when I hooked the fish.”
Cross not only won first place in the the Camanche event on Saturday, but he also took first place in the adult division of the NTAC event at San Pablo Reservoir in El Sobrante in February 2016 by catching a hard-fighting rainbow weighing 4.38 pounds. He hooked that fish also while fishing chartreuse PowerBait from shore.
At Camanche, Cross was fishing with Bruce Alger, also of Milpitas, who landed a 1.81 lb. trout while fishing Power Bait.
Grace Sugimoto placed second with a 6.58 lb. rainbow trout. Like Cross, she was fishing from shore with Power Bait.
Pat Vigil of Hayward finished third with his 3.76-pound rainbow. He tossed out Biohazard floating bait, laced with Pro-Cure leech scent, off his boat at 30 feet deep by the dam.
“I got off the lake at 10 am because it was blowing 25 to 30 mph,” he noted.
The fourth through tenth place winners included (4) Martin McNeil, 3.19; (5) David Tabuchi, 2.61; (6) Jason Moore, 2.38; (7) Craig Standridge, 2.23; (8) Chris Cardwell, 2.17; (9) Troy Cannistrano, 2.11; and (10 Janet Ellis, 2.09.
The eleventh through twentieth place winners were (11) DJ Woodring, 1.95; (12) Mike Young, 1.93; (13) Dick Young, 1.85; (14) John Young, 1.81; (15) Bruce Alger, 1.81; (16) Leanna Borba, 1.8; (17) Jason Andre, 1.69; (18) Mark Sepelayak, 1.68; (19) Robert Martin, 1.63; and (20) Rick Benoit, 1.57.
The top 50 adult finishers in each tournament are eligible to win the Grand Raffle Prize, a new aluminum boat, trailer and electric trolling motor package.
Peter Scali won first place in the youth division with a 2.79-pound rainbow.
Ranna Mcculloch placed second with a 1.65 lb. trout, Christopher Gritts placed third with a 1.36 lb. trout; and Westly Gritts placed third with a 0.98 lb. rainbow.
The top 25 youth finishers in each tournament are eligible for a chance to win the Grand Raffle Prize: A Fisherman’s Dream Kayak Rig.
The NTAC Tour’s sponsors include Fisherman’s Warehouse, Berkley, Altas Mike’s,’ Pro-Cure Bait Scents, Magic Products, and Yakima Bait, manufacturer of the Rooster Tail spinner.
Like at all of the previous tournaments, Vince Harris, awarded an angler with $100 in cash for catching a big trout on a Rooster Tail spinner at Camanche.’
The 2016 Tournament of Champions will take place at Collins Lake. For more information about Angler’s Press events, contact Vince Harris, (916) 768-0938, http://www.anglerspress.com.
Lake Camanche features both good shore and bank fishing for trout during the spring and winter months, but it can be fickle at times.
“You can go fishing all morning on the lake and leave at noon without a bite,” said Bob Simms, host of the KFBK Outdoor Show. “Then the anglers in the boat that arrives at the ramp at noon will catch their limits by 2:30 pm.”
Since regular rainbow trout plants began in 1989, the East Bay Municipal Utility District water supply reservoir, best known for outstanding bass fishing, has also become known throughout the north state as an outstanding trout fishery.
Each year, over 60,000 pounds of trout are stocked between October and June. The fish weigh at least a pound and go up to trophy sized 8 pounders, according to the Lake Camanche Recreation Company.
Ten percent of the fish stocked in the lake and pond are trophy fish three pounds and over, including some real lunkers. The concessionaire plants only “triploid” fish — infertile fish incapable of spawning — since EBMUD biologists don’t want the rainbows mixing with the native run of steelhead in the Mokelumne River below Camanche dam.
The largest trout I have every personally caught at Camanche was a 7-1/2 pounder that I landed while trolling in April a decade ago, but many huge fish have been caught on this lake.
You could catch the trout of a lifetime at Lake Camanche. Just ask Mark and Mike Seaters of Lodi, who teamed up to catch the lake record rainbow of 19.42 pounds while fishing a brown plastic worm near the dam on Aug. 4, 1998.
While many anglers come to the lake to fish from shore or boat, very few are aware of the lake’s rich history. After the dam was completed and the reservoir filled in 1964, the remains of several Gold Rush towns were flooded.
The most famous of these was Lancha Plana – “flat boat” in Spanish – a settlement in Amador County formed as a result of a flatboat ferry crossing across the Mokelumne River. Founded by Mexican settlers in 1848, it was situated on the north bank of the Mokelumne River, 9 miles south-southeast of Ione at an elevation of 220 feet. Lancha Plana Bridge crosses the lake now about where the town once stood.
Other towns inundated by the lake rising waters include Arkansas Ferry, China Gulch, and of course, Camanche, the town that the reservoir is named after. The gold mining town, formerly called Limerick, became Camanche, named after Camanche, Iowa, in 1849.
Since the lake is relatively shallow, with a maximum depth of about 150 feet when full, Camanche offers huge expanses of reefs and rock piles punctuated by standing timber and brush. The low areas between the rock piles act as channels and travel corridors that the lake’s trout, bass and other gamefish use for travel and security.
Besides the lake itself, the South Shore also features the South Shore Trout Pond, regularly planted with trout in the fall, winter and spring.
The lake has a great population of spotted, Florida-strain largemouth and smallmouth bass. Kevin Miranda of Sacramento set a new lake largemouth record of 18.7 pounds on June 26, 2015, when he was fishing a river2Sea crankbait near Little Hat Island. The monster weighed 31 inches long and had a 24-inch girth.
Beside rainbow trout and black bass, channel catfish, black crappie, bluegill and sunfish are found in abundance in the lake.
While fishing for any of these species during the winter, you may see the iconic bald eagles that migrate south to Camanche every year.
The lake has continued to rise as the snow is melting. Lake Camanche as of this report was at 55% of capacity.
For more information, contact: Lake Camanche—North Shore, 209-763-5121, or Lake Camanche—South Shore, 209-763-5912.
Camanche Lake Facts
History and Size: Lake Camanche sits in the rolling Mother Lode foothills of the Sierra Nevada near Burson. The EBMUD reservoir covers 12 square miles, is 150 feet deep, and has 53 miles of shoreline when full. The lake is only a two-hour drive from most of the San Francisco Bay Area. Construction of the dam and reservoir on the Mokelumne River was finished in 1963.
Fishing Season: Fishing for rainbow trout, black bass, channel catfish, bluegill, crappie and other fish is open year round at Lake Camanche. A $5.50 fishing access fee is required.
Vehicle Entry/Parking: the daily fee for cars, motorcycles and small vans is $12.50 during the regular season and $8.00 daily during the off-season from October to April.
Boating Facilities: Marinas on the North and South shores offer boat rentals, slips, fuel, bait, tackle and supplies. Boat ramps are located on both shores. The boat launching fee is $10.00 except for during the off-season from October to April when it is $7.00.
Camping and Lodging: Full RV hookups, shoreline camping and lots of campsites with barbecues, tables, hot showers, restrooms and laundry facilities make Camanche one of the best recreational destinations in California. Fully furnished cottages at both shores and motel units at the North shore are also available.
Vessel Inspections Required: The East Bay Municipal Utility District has taken several steps to manage the Quagga and Zebra mussel issue at Camanche. Vessels from Southern California and outside of California will not be allowed on Lake Camanche. All vessels from approved counties will be inspected prior to launch. These inspections should take no more than five minutes per vessel. You can help with the inspection process by ensuring all your water reservoirs are dry and that your boat is clean.
For more information, including detailed descriptions of the vessel history survey and the physical inspection or to learn more about invasive mussels, please visit: https://www.ebmud.com/recreation/invasive-mussel-prevention-program
Facilities information: www.camancherecreation.com
Lake Camanche – North Shore, 2000 Camanche Rd., Ione, Ca. 95640, 209-763-5121
Lake Camanche – South Shore, 11700 Wade Ln., Wallace, Ca. 95225, 209-763-5912